Rick Perry, State Officials Named in Class Action Over Failures in Texas's Long-Term Foster Care

Categories: News
childrensrights.jpeg
A lengthy federal suit filed this morning by the national advocacy group Children's Rights says Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials have neglected their legal responsibility to the children in state care, and violated their constitutional rights, by "failing to either return them safely to their families or find them safe, appropriate, and permanent new families."

Backed by a trio of Texas law firms including Victory Park-based Haynes and Boone, M.D. v. Perry names nine specific plaintiffs by their initials. In a press release this morning, Children's Rights says the suit -- which follows in full -- was filed "on behalf of the approximately 12,000 children who have the misfortune of being in the long-term foster care" of Texas's Department of Family and Protective Services.

DFPS Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein and Health and Human Services Commissioner Thomas Suehs are also named as defendants in the complaint, which includes a list of proposed reforms -- including a limit on DFPS workers' caseloads, a new accountability system for the agency, and "special expert panels to review the cases of all class members who have had more than four placements."

As it is, children in DFPS custody typically have a year to find a permanent foster home, or be reunited with their old family, before they're placed in "permanent managing conservatorship," a long-term solution where, the group says, children are "forgotten" by the state. The cases detailed in the complaint -- of children from 9 to 16 years old -- detail frequent shuffling between group homes, mismanaged medication, abuse and separation from brothers and sisters.

"Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own," said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children's Rights. The complaint seeks nothing less than the reform of the state's foster care system.

M.D. v. Perry Complaint
My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
AdoptiveDad
AdoptiveDad

Lets kill two birds with one stone, every school district will attach foster care housing to their high school, the kids are already there most of the time and they are already fed there. The schools will now get all that money for the kids they are already taking care of most of the time. Schools get money and kids get safer institutional housing.

duh!
duh!

no thanks, one of the major problems with public school is teachers are charged with raising AND teaching the kids.

scottindallas
scottindallas

"The great thing about being a foster family is that even though I get older, the foster kids stay the same age."

nccpr
nccpr

While it may have come as a surprise to some in the state, readers of my organization’s Child Welfare Blog have known for nearly a year that the next target for a McLawsuit from the group that so arrogantly calls itself Children’s Rights would be Texas.

The Texas child welfare system is every bit as bad as CR says it is in its Complaint. Indeed, we cited many of the same problems in our own report on Texas child welfare in 2005. And of course Texas needs to spend more on child welfare, but it also needs to spend smarter. The dismal track record of CR across the country shows that won’t happen. Their lawsuits rarely make systems better and sometimes make them worse.

That’s because CR always ignores the elephant in the room: While some children are left in dangerous homes others are torn needlessly from everyone loving and familiar. One of the very children cited in the lawsuit as a named plaintiff, A.M. is one example. Details are on our Child Welfare Blog here: http://bit.ly/fCWPe1 (And of course, another example was reported in the Houston Chronicle just two days ago: http://bit.ly/g6mAb7 )

Fighting the lawsuit won’t help either. While it is not true that they’ve never lost (they lost in Nebraska and joined a suit in Florida that was thrown out) they rarely lose. They don’t really win either. Instead states get hyperbureaucratic settlements that can drag on for more than a decade. The people at CR are like the clerk you least want to see when you finally make it to the front of the line at the DMV.

The key is negotiating a far better settlement than the kind CR wants. There’s much more on our Child Welfare Blog here: http://bit.ly/fCWPe1

Richard WexlerExecutive DirectorNational Coalition for Child Protection Reformwww.nccpr.org

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

The facts in this complaint are horrendous. Kudos to these law firms for using their expertise and resources to bring this suit. I hope they kick ass.

Uppercase Matt
Uppercase Matt

We should immediately shut down DFPS and HHS. It's appalling that they have failed to provide adoptive parents for each of these kids. Shut down those departments, apply the savings to help the state budget, and deliver those poor kids to Haynes and Boone, who will provide all the loving adoptive parents they could possibly want.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I know a CPS caseworker who, surprisingly, feels the same way about this issue. The state, under perry, has taken a system already broken and pretty much made it worse. One thing i've said concerning adoption, as my wife and I have looked into it, is that the process needs to be streamlined, as there are children out there who deserve better perm homes than what they receive via the "foster system"

Another fine example of how Rick Perry and his friends have screwed up this state. I hope Children's Rights wins this case and bends the state over a barrel.

Dad
Dad

While it was under Perry's watch, it was Sen Jane Nelson of Lewisville that really screwed up CPS, by trying to force out the lowest level foster homes from CPS oversight and trying to privatize the whole system. What a boondoggle.

JS
JS

I look forward to hearing how many lawyers from Haynes & Boone, Canales & Simonson, and Yetter Coleman have adopted 9=16 year old children out of the state foster care system.

Dan
Dan

point being?

JS
JS

It's easy to file a lawsuit -- have any of these people actually contributed to a solution? Have any of these lawyers spent a dime of the hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars they make every year to adopt one of these kids? No. But they will pat themselves on the back, tally up their pro bono hours for bullshit awards, and tell themselves that they've done something to make Texas a better place.

duh!
duh!

he had none. the fact that he was more concerned about rebutting the article than these poor children which so many conservatives claim to care about lets me know that our children have no future in this state.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...